Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 500 — image data
I have it
Renewing one's American passport by mail isn't too arduous for most folks.... you just need:
- old passport
- filled-out application form
- self-addressed stamped envelope
For most folks the photo is probably the biggest hassle because you have to stop by one of those booths in a mall or something, but if you're a photographer, “photo” means you really need (or at least in my case I actually used):
- Camera (Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens)
- Tripod (Gitzo and Really Right Stuff)
- White foamcore board as backdrop
- SB-900 speedlight as on-camera commander (why can't Nikon's pro body include a commander like the D700!?)
- SB-800 speedlight as primary illumination
- Reflector umbrella
- Stand for umbrella
- speedlight mount for umbrella/stand
- SB-600 speedlight to light background
- CamRanger camera remote-control unit
- Apple iPad mini to connect to CamRanger remote-control unit
- computer / Lightroom / photo printer / photo paper
I have little experience with portraiture (though I try), but even less experience/confidence with artificial light, so it ended up being quite the ordeal to find everything and get it set up, then figure out how to work the speedlights. Nikon, bless them, seems to be able to come up with a completely different, completely horrible UI design with every new speedlight model.
Once I got things set up, actually taking the photos took only a few moments. Then another 20 minutes to put everything away, and then another 30 minutes fighting with Satan's Printer (the evil Canon MG3600, which I swear will be the last Canon printer I ever buy) to get the hardcopy. Then carefully cutting out the 2”×2” square required for the application took some time.
The application is a bit more complex living overseas because at least in Japan you can't write a check, so you have to go to the post office and get a “postal money order” to include with the application. With a postal money order, you pay in yen and get a paper redeemable (in this case by the passport office) for dollars at any post office in The States. It doesn't sound arduous, but wow, it was.
Years ago you could buy these at the post office like buying envelopes at a store.... simply say what you want, give the appropriate cash, and get the money order. Now, you need to fill out all kinds of forms in multiple languages in a very particular manner, government IDs, specify exactly what the money is for, etc. It was ridiculous, and took 45 minutes(!) to get the thing. Oh, and they added a $20 fee to cover their own time, I suppose. All this for a $100 transaction. I would have rather taken my chances throwing cash in the envelope, were it allowed.
Anyway, I just got my new passport in the mail this evening, so I'm set until I have to do this all over again in 2024.... or, at least, until it's time to renew Anthony's passport. But for a child's passport, America requires the physical presence of the child and both parents at the consulate/embassy, which is a hassle unto itself, but perhaps less so than the friggin' postal money order because when you show up in person, you can pay in greenbacks.
Then after that, the next passport hassle will be to renew Curious George's passport, but that's still five years off...